Opposing ASCSU’s RES 4206 removing faculty and staff salary increases

Kevin JensenThis semester, one of ASCSU President Regina Martel’s stated goals is to do a better job reaching out to the community and increasing awareness about her organization. With a resolution passed on Jan. 23, a large segment of the Fort Collins community will undoubtedly become more familiar with ASCSU should their recommendation take hold and CSU faculty and staff are denied salary increases for the upcoming year.

On Wednesday, ASCSU’s tuition task force is meeting with Tony Frank to present their stance on the budget, which will focus upon RES 4206, a recommendation that the proposed 9 percent increase in tuition be decreased to an amount that would not include an increase in employee salaries.

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ASCSU should be commended for taking the initiative to create a task force to try to combat continued increases in tuition to attend CSU, especially since many of the organization’s members are working hard on students’ behalf for zero pay.

Unfortunately, when the task force looked at the proposed budget, the only cost cutting measure they were able to find was to eliminate the 3 percent increase in CSU faculty and staff salaries.

I disagree with their conclusion and oppose 4206.

If the rest of the budget numbers are set in stone, as ASCSU has found, then I believe it’s imperative that we step up and assume the full 9 percent tuition hike rather than let our faculty, staff and fellow community members become the unintended scapegoats of our representatives’ penny pinching.

Three percent may seem like a trivial raise for faculty and staff, but in these years of increasing prices and a stagnant economy, a few more dollars per paycheck can make a world of difference for both the purse and the heart of those who make this campus great.

This fact is only magnified when you take into consideration that prior to the mandatory increase for state employees this year, our faculty and staff had not really received any sort of salary increase for three years preceding that — so I am willing to wager even a minimal pay raise would be a huge relief.

But while the the salary increase ASCSU is opposing seems relatively minute, the impact it would have on decreasing the tuition hike is even smaller — less than 2 percent.

So we’re cutting incentives for great staff to stay and keep working hard, and competitively attract top-notch faculty, and still going to be subjected to a tuition hike of about 7.3 percent? It hardly seems worth it.

Although I am appreciative of our representatives’ efforts to keep our costs low and try to fulfill our land-grant mission of keeping higher education affordable, this resolution was the wrong place to take a stand.

When listening to plans by ASCSU to put new tablets into RamRide cars, and remembering back to when our newly elected president and vice president immediately passed legislation increasing their salaries, you’ve got to ask yourself, are staff and faculty wages the best area to display fiscal conservatism?

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Is a 3 percent increase all that much to ask, especially when President Martel just recently awarded herself a $750 raise — over a 9 percent increase — which brought her salary for 2012-2013 to $9,000.

State revenue has decreased since 2007, which hollowed out our ability for a time to pay even the most meager salary increases. This year, however, we have had a decrease in unemployment and we have received more state revenue, with every indication that the worst of the recession is behind us.

Now is not the time to pull back, to yank the purse strings and potentially strangle the progress of our local economy. CSU is the epicenter of Fort Collins and employs more people than any other organization in Larimer County.

It will mean that our educations will be moderately more expensive, but with the exclusion of salary increases we really won’t be saving hardly any money at all.

I am willing to go a few more dollars in debt to better my community. In the end, isn’t that what going to college is all about?